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Old 11-26-2012, 02:31 PM   #1
Joseph Alberga
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Degenerated Disc - Doc says it's over

Been dealing with low back pain for 4 months now. Just got my MRI results and spoke with my spine specialist today.

He showed me my L5 degenerated disc. He said it's beat to hell, and it's most likely from excessive stress in my workouts. His familiarity with Crossfit is that we are insane athletes who are constantly over-working, over-training, and unsafely pushing limits. He thinks it's dangerous. He says I shouldn't do it anymore.

The pain is tolerable, but hasn't gotten better. If I do any type of lift from the ground (dead lift, clean, snatch, etc.) or heavy squats, the pain is there. I can tough through it, like you tough through the last round of a WOD, but the pain hours later and the next day is crippling. When doing heavy deadlifts or high reps of deadlifts, the pain does become overbearing. Putting on socks becomes a terrible chore the next morning due to pain and stiffness.

Here's the thing no one understands. I'm terribly depressed. I'm 27 years old--degenerated disc? Like does that happen? I can draw blueprints on form and technique, and my diet is top-notch. This crossfit racket has taken over my life. It's all I think about. It's all I live for. And I'm good at it. I don't want to stop. I can't stop. Does anyone have advice? Can this disc heal?
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Old 11-26-2012, 02:53 PM   #2
Brian Strump
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Re: Degenerated Disc - Doc says it's over

Do you have a copy of the MRI report.

You have unlikely been doing CF long enough for it to be the culprit of the disc degeneration. While 27 is young, depending on your life of traumas, and contact sports, it's not unheard of.

The doc is covering his ***. If he gives you the green like to do what you want, and you're back in his office with a herniated disc in 6 months....well, here in America, people sue for $hit like that.

Sending the report is a good start.

Did the doctor at least give you what you can do to rehab, or suggest seeing someone more helpful. DC, PT, etc?

I would bring your MRI report to another doctor for another opinion. His is poor.
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Old 11-26-2012, 02:55 PM   #3
Kris Yeung
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Re: Degenerated Disc - Doc says it's over

That definitely sucks to hear about your injury, but don't go jumping on the operating table till you have had multiple opinions. As a therapist, I have encountered many people w degenerative disks and herniations, life isn't over. You basically have to peel back, and as a young athlete, I know is is like asking you to never drive again, but w time, spine stabilizing exercises, hip mobility and glute strengthening, you will be able to lift again. Now doing 400 dead lifts might be out of the question, but fear not young Jedi, cuz I have seen and worked out with people twice your age with severe injuries to disks that are still lifting, functioning, and being healthy like you.
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Old 11-26-2012, 09:01 PM   #4
Sean Rockett
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Re: Degenerated Disc - Doc says it's over

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kris Yeung View Post
That definitely sucks to hear about your injury, but don't go jumping on the operating table till you have had multiple opinions. As a therapist, I have encountered many people w degenerative disks and herniations, life isn't over. You basically have to peel back, and as a young athlete, I know is is like asking you to never drive again, but w time, spine stabilizing exercises, hip mobility and glute strengthening, you will be able to lift again. Now doing 400 dead lifts might be out of the question, but fear not young Jedi, cuz I have seen and worked out with people twice your age with severe injuries to disks that are still lifting, functioning, and being healthy like you.
Agree be patient and things can improve if you let them. Modify to the point where you don't have pain and work on those goats that don't hurt you.
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Old 11-27-2012, 06:13 PM   #5
Graham Fedorak
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Re: Degenerated Disc - Doc says it's over

Lots of folks with no back pain whatsoever have degenerative discs on MRI. It's why lots of back operations for back pain don't work very well. Sweeping statements such as "don't do crossfit ever again" are probably inaccurate. However, if doing crossfit is hurting your back, you need to modify what you are doing.

Dr. Rockett has good advice - work on what doesn't hurt. "Toughing through the pain" as you say is a bad idea.
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Old 11-28-2012, 09:38 AM   #6
Aaron Wayne Campbell
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Re: Degenerated Disc - Doc says it's over

I can sympathize with you Joseph. Your story is exactly like mine. Hurt my back in July. MRI showed buldging disc and degenerative disc disease. Went to see Ortho who said all the same bad stuff about Crossfit. Said I have the back of a 60 year old. Said I should never do Crossfit again, probably never run either. I actually cried on the way out. Crossfit meant everything to me. I went from seeing myself as strong and capable to old and decrepid. Now I'm just being patient. I'm doing what I can that doesn't hurt my back. It's not much, but it's something. I'm doing physical therapy (my PT also said no more Crossfit). It's been a process of greiving and acceptance. I may never get back to where I was, but then again, I just might.

The lingering question I have in the back of mind after reading so many stories like this is....is it true? Is Crossfit really that bad for you? Is the intensity just too much? Apparently a lot of physicians seem to think so. Someone should study this.
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Old 11-28-2012, 10:56 AM   #7
Matt A. Windsor
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Re: Degenerated Disc - Doc says it's over

"LOL"

I had back surgery in 2005 after years of back pain.

I've been CrossFitting for 8 months now; my max deadlift is 405, max squat is 315. Suffice to say that I don't have too many problems at all with it.

Yes, occasionally I have to modify (e.g., thrusters, deadlifts and wallballs back to back is a killer) but other than that I'm fine. So I have a tough time believing 4 MONTHS of CrossFit has caused disc degeneration.
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Old 11-28-2012, 11:49 AM   #8
Justin Goudreau
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Re: Degenerated Disc - Doc says it's over

I have a degenerated disk in my neck and dr. said it attributed to the pain I had in my rhomboids for years. Eventually I found yoga and myofasical release and no more pain. Sometimes the disk is the easiest answer for the Dr. because it's their job to tell you what is wrong but they don't study fascia intact a lot of the Drs don't believe in alternative methods of healing.

You have a degenerative disk like most people if they had an MRI would see they have one too. But something is causing this and it's likely an imbalance in your body. I personally would start with your hips and exhaust all of the the imbalances there. Maybe don't go as heavy (check your ego) and focus on mechanics, spend more time mobilizing, lots of lunges and go easy.

By the way I have pain in my arms going on 2 years now 2 spine drs said it was my neck and the 3rd dr. said my neck looked very healthy and the slight degeneration would not be causing me pain in my arms. I attribute my pain in my arms to excessive tension and shoulder imbalance/stability. I'm still struggling with it and it can get me depressed at times so I know how you feel. I had these pains long before CrossFit. I crossfit to get my mind off the pain and to make me feel good.
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Old 11-28-2012, 12:04 PM   #9
John Donovan
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Re: Degenerated Disc - Doc says it's over

I'm in the same boat you're in brother. Degeneration, bulging and arthritis in L3-4, L4-5. I've had back pain for 9 years and some days a Charlie horse type cramping down my left leg. In our line of work it's hard not to have a bad back. I've been to PT 2-3 times, spinal injections, manipulations and deep tissue massage all without relief. I'm currently waiting for a call from a surgeon. I'm 31 and only 10 years into a 25 year career so needless to say I feel your pain. You still have options though so don't let it get you down too much. I've just decided I'm too young for back surgery and will wait as long as possible before I do.
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